As your business grows, you need the right people to help you with that growth. And with that you will attract people who perform differently from each other.

Some are reliable and others will do just what is needed to get the job done and no more. You may also have a new employee who is proactive, shows enthusiasm, has great promise but over time their performance deteriorates.

Alternatively, you may have that staff member who, despite displaying early signs of poor performance, turned the corner and became effective and high performing.

Finally, there is the long-term employee who may have been there at the beginning and experienced many cycles in the business. Now, turning up is more a habit than a means of being productive. Their energy, enthusiasm or passion in the business is ebbing away like a flickering flame, constant, present but no real heat is being provided. They are a burden to the business, the team, to you and most of all to themselves.

In the 1970’s the BCG matrix was created by Bruce D. Henderson for the Boston Consulting Group to help corporations analyze their business units to find out how they were performing and whether they should maintain, invest, divest or simply discard. I am not going to go into this model in too much depth, but I want to put a twist on this and show you how you can use it, although a little crude, to analyse your team. So here goes.

The Star – a model performer who shows tremendous potential as they may be a new joiner or have a reputation for getting things done. Enthusiastic, a sponge full of ideas, hardworking, and really committed. You are excited by their behavior. If only their attitude and professionalism could be replicated across the team or department things would be so much easier. But life or business is never like that.

A friend who runs a successful retail business recently commented about one of his employees. He said “from the moment she comes in she never stops working as in her mind there is always something to do. While everyone else is doing just what needs to be done she is forever finding something to do. She is the model I would like all the other staff to follow.”

Cash Cow – steady Eddie. They once may have been a rising star but have settled in and will deliver day in day out. Consistent is the word for them. Always there, no great fireworks, dependable, reliable and you know that they will get the job done. Cash cows are the lifeblood of a business.

Question mark – they were probably a star performer but have moved from being a star into this box. Problematic, temperamental, some effort has been made through appraisal meetings but the performance is inconsistent. After several attempts at retraining, discussion and warning, things remain the same. It could be that they are no longer excited by the role or the business or what they are doing. They may have lost their mojo and just performing out of routine. With a tweak they could easily go back into either becoming a star performer or Cash Cow but time is needed to see if it is worthwhile.

Dead Dog – poor performers: At one time they have may been a Star but have now become complacent, and this could be due to changes in the market, technologies being used or in a role that never really suited them. The challenge here is that the longer they stay in the business the more your credibitly as a decisive leader wanes. Their behavior is crying out for you to save them and yourself from further misery.

This grid is a simple adaptation that can help you to understand the performance and potential of those in your team.  It could give you an insight into who needs encouragement, praise, extra support and or training. It is also an opportunity to make some difficult decisions.

If you have read this article to the end and understand the concept, then I would hazard a guess that you have made a mental note as to who sits in which box. Every time I explain this model to directors or senior management, without exception, they can go through their team and put them in the respective boxes.  They have even done this with suppliers.  However, here is a suggestion, take 5 minutes and create a replica of this box on a piece of paper and ask yourself one question – where would I place the people I am working with and what would I like to do about it?

With the Star, have you looked into what they value, could it be tickets to a show? As money is not always the only motivator. With the Question Mark, schedule a meeting in your diary and make the time to have a coffee or a private meeting and talk through your concerns, this may be something that you have been putting off for a while.

For Cash Cows, celebrate their consistency in private and public. Show your recognition maybe by giving them a couple of days off, or a gift that is not related to work.  They may have a burning desire to learn a language or to sing, and a consideration could be to pay for the first set of their classes. The point I am making is take an interest in them personally and show your gratitude privately and publicly. Sometimes that simple acknowledgement is all that is needed.

The Dead Dog may be the hardest one and this may be due to the relationship, or the fact that they were there at the beginning or many other factors. However, it may well be that you need to be cruel to be kind, and make that very difficult decision and do what needs to be done.

Finally, here is the kicker, even though you may be owner, the team leader, supervisor, manager or pastor, the question is are you tired of your business? Is this evidenced in your attitude? Are you yourself shining bright? Which box would you put yourself in?